After weeks of questions from TPM, House Republicans finally said on Friday that they have no plans to give back large donations from an ex-con former business partner of the notorious Jack Abramoff.
The National Republican Congressional Committee received a combined $50,000 in donations in June from Adam Kidan, who served 31 months in prison for fraud and conspiracy for his prominent role in one of Abramoff’s numerous illegal schemes. And they see nothing wrong with spending that cash to try to keep their majority.
“We were unaware of his history. We don’t condone his actions in any way. We believe he’s paid his debt to society and have no plans to refund at this time,” NRCC communications director Matt Gorman told TPM in an emailed statement Friday afternoon.
That response comes weeks after the group ignored questions from TPM when it first reported on the donations late last month.
NRCC spokesmen had declined to respond to multiple calls and emails requesting comment on whether or not they planned to keep that money in late August.
When TPM asked NRCC chairman Steve Stivers (R-OH) about the cash Friday morning at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, however, he promised an answer.
“I’ll follow up with you directly. I got here in 2011 so that’s a new name for me, but I’ll check it out and personally get back to you, I’ll have Matt or I get back to you,” Stivers responded.
He was true to his word.
The NRCC’s decision to keep the money in spite of Kidan’s shady past, which you can read about more here, stands in contrast to the two House Republican candidates facing tough reelection fights who’d received donations from Kidan — then decided to give that money to charity after media scrutiny.
Before he gave to the NRCC, Kidan had made sizable donations to seven GOP congressmen. The two congressmen in tough races, Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Claudia Tenney (R-NY), subsequently said they’d give those donations to charity. The other five stayed mum, and didn’t respond to questions from TPM.
But the size of those donations paled in comparison to Kidan’s summer gift to the NRCC, which TPM first reported on in late August.